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Blair and Bush to talk war tactics

Blair and Bush at Camp David in September 2002
Blair and Bush at Camp David in September 2002

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- UK Prime Minister Tony Blair will fly to America this week to discuss war strategy with U.S. President George W. Bush, sources have told CNN.

The meeting is likely to be at the presidential retreat in Maryland, Camp David, probably on Thursday, administration and diplomatic sources said.

Blair, who is due to hold another of his monthly press briefings in London at 1200 GMT Tuesday, has been battling to persuade the British public to back the war against Iraq.

A poll in the Guardian newspaper Tuesday suggested 54 percent of the public now backs a war compared, with 38 percent a week ago.

Opposition to the war has dropped to 30 percent over the past week from 44 percent, while Blair's personal rating has improved. But the Guardian said support could decline if there were serious military setbacks.

On Monday Blair told the British parliament that Allied forces were 60 miles south of Baghdad but could soon encounter the Medina division of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard. "This will be a crucial moment," he said.

Blair said the war objectives would bring humanitarian help for Iraq's "brutalized" people and a peaceful future, but warned: "There will be anxious moments in the days ahead but coalition victory is certain."

The prime minister was in the House of Commons to report back on the outcome of last week's European Union leaders' summit, but most of his time was devoted to Iraq.

Allied troops were in control of southern oil fields, he said, and Basra was surrounded.

"The strategy and timing are proceeding according to plan," added Blair. "Saddam will go. His regime will be replaced and the Iraqi people will be helped to a better future without weapons of mass destruction."


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